"There is wisdom in the old tales, and in the tales of the old, that hold truths
that we need to know today"

Diane Ferlatte is at the forefront of the multicultural renaissance of the oral tradition as she augments inventive stagecraft with the actor´s skill at expression, gesture, and intense emotion, to create multiple characters for each story. Embracing her role as a traditional preserver of folk history, culture, and values, she weaves tales from many cultures, while naturally many of her stories have African, Southern, and African-American roots. In her performances, the multi-talented Ferlatte sings, signs (American Sign Language), uses percussive instruments, and is frequently accompanied by Erik Pearson on banjo and guitar. With a repertoire of hundreds of stories and songs, she tells folk-tales, fables, legends, historical, contemporary, and personal stories for all ages. The program/workshop selections that follow are available upon request. Each program can be scheduled from 45 to 90 minutes in length. Workshops can be from 90 minutes to 4 hours in length.

Youth/Family Programs

  1. 1. Wickety Whack, Brer Rabbit is Back; from the mouths of slaves, stories that helped us to survive.
  2. 2. We Were There; not Black History, but Blacks in American History.
  3. 3. Aesop Alive and Well; the fables of Aesop brought to life with music & song & Diane's special zest.
  4. 4. Knick Knack Paddy Whack; playful blending of traditional songs and stories for young children.
  5. 5.  The Dream of a King; stories & songs that honor Martin Luther King Jr. & his legacy.
  6. 6. Walking Through the Bush; stories from Africa that have lessons for today.
  7. 7. Train Without Tracks; unique stories & songs about the quest for freedom on the 'Underground Railroad'.11.
  8. 8. Have I Got a Story to Tell; family stories for the young and old tailored for each audience.
  9. 9. The Spirit of Freedom; tales of the struggles and triumphs of African-Americans.
  10. 10. Joyful Traditions; a holiday song and story concert.
  11.  
  12.  
  13. Adult Programs

  14. 1. Penny For Your Thoughts; Diane's very personal stories of crossing cultural/racial barriers.
  15. 2. Thicker Than Water; stories that show the power and joy of connecting with one another in our common humanity.
  16. 3. Sapelo, Time is Winding Up; a one-woman show celebrating the lives of slave descendants on a Georgia Sea     Island.
  17. 4. The Missing Rib, The Spirit of Women; celebrates the strengths and unique gifts of women.
  18. 5. Haunted Bayou; ghostly tales, spirits have souls too.

 
 

Diane has co-authored and performed in several theater pieces. Along with colleague Beverly Patton-Miller, she developed a one-woman show, Sapelo, Time is Winding Up. This show evolved after her month long immersion in the West African Gullah folk culture on Sapelo Island, one of the Georgia Sea Islands. She tells the stories of life in the Hog Hammock community of Sapelo through her characterizations of the slave descendent residents there. She continues to maintain her love and affection for the people of Hog Hammock and has returned there annually for the past ten years.

In collaboration with other artists she has developed and performed in other projects including the Memory Project, Dreaming Backwards, commissioned for the San Francisco Exploratorium. Along with Joanna Highgood of ZACCHO Dance Theater and Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, Diane worked on and toured in Invisible Wings, a commemoration of slaves seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad.

CRITICS CORNER
"Splendid!...The `Sapelo´ piece is truly a jewel."
National Conference of Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution

"The writing was excellent, her characters were well drawn and were executed beautifully"
A. Vernon Lapps Ph.D. Mansfield University, Pennsylvania

"It was the best session we´ve had in twenty years...`I had tears in my eyes, I could really imagine
what it must have been like to be there´"

Consumnes River College, California

"Ferlatte´s presence, her performance, her style, her music, her rhythm, and the way she moved from one character to another, in a one woman show atmosphere, thrilled the audience and made history come to life"
California Center for the Arts, Escondido

"`Sapelo´was a truly moving experience...your artistry helped us to all `go there´ and in
the process gain some insight and understanding"

Roy Furshpan
Center Arts, Humboldt State University, California


work

Bringing Stories to Life
This workshop is for anyone interested in exploring ways to add life to your stories. Discover the power of a well-told story through small group exercises, presentations, and examples from my own stories. We will discuss storytelling techniques and guidelines. How do you effectively pass on your story? Getting in touch with the whole story, verbal and nonverbal, through our senses; movement, gestures, voice, facial expression, emotions, and characterization. You don´t have to be an actor to be a good storyteller. You only need an imagination.

Culturally Speaking
This workshop is for anyone who loves stories. We will explore and discuss memories, thoughts, and feelings in a cultural sense. You will use stories from your own personal experiences to help you learn, understand, and interact with other cultures. Exchanging stories across cultures may be the best way to understand and know another culture

`Remember only this one thing´, said Badger, `The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other´s memory. This is how people care for themselves.´ From Crow and Weasel by Barry Lopez

Stories as a Teaching and Survival Tool for African Americans
This workshop will give you a chance to experience and discuss the importance of storytelling in African and African American culture. When the Africans were taken from their homeland, they were stripped of their language, religion, music, dance, and family structure, in short their entire culture. Everything was taken away but their undying spirit to survive and to keep on keeping on. If you want to know about a people and their culture, listen to their stories.

Sheroes and Heroes
Who are the heroes? Where are the sheroes? What is a hero? This workshop will give us a chance to think about and look back at the sheroes in our own lives. Some of our first heroes showed up in folklore. We will discuss the qualities of "heroes" found in folklore and in our own lives. Sometimes we tend to look in the wrong place for heroes. We will discuss the power of shero and hero stories to inspire and provide courage.

Combining Song and Story
This workshop will look for the songs, the chants, the rhymes in stories. Discussing and looking at different ways to combine singing with storytelling. Creating songs that fit the story add spirit, enrichment, and audience participation. Do you have to be a good singer? No, but willing to have fun with singing. Join in a playful experience with storytelling.

What a Character!
Every story needs a character or characters. Looking at narration verses what the characters have to say. Discussing ways of developing characters in the story. How can the teller best express the wicked witch, the wise old man, the trickster, the hero, to help the listener visualize the characters. What behaviors, character traits, and mannerisms are appropriate to each? To do this requires a personal understanding of each character.

Let´s get the Rhythm of the Hands
Before there was rap there was handclap. In the "folk process" songs and stories are generally passed on from adult to child. With handclap games the process is different. These games are passed on from child to child. Unfortunately, parents and teachers have become too modern. Interpersonal games are hardly played at all. There is no attempt to preserve handclap games or to participate with the children in them. The life of handclap games depends upon generations of children passing them on to the next generation. You too can play a part in preserving these early handclap games which teach the creative use of language and rhythm.

Let´s Get Personal
Looking at some of the stories making up who we are. Looking at some of the stories in our own lives that should be told. The personal stories are the glue that binds us together. We discover our common humanity through our personal stories. This workshop will help us to see and develop those personal stories.

CRITICS CORNER
"Our sincere appreciation...evaluation after evaluation and pledge card after pledge card mentioned a commitment of participants to take more time to listen to others and to treat people with greater respect and dignity"
Kern Network of Children, Kern County, California

"It was wonderful to be reminded of the power and richness of the `simple´ art of storytelling"
Penrhos College, Australia

"It inspired me to see some of the events from my own life as stories worth telling"
The California Literature Project

"Many of the participants stated that they felt you were the highlight of the two day training. They were motivated to energize and invigorate the storytelling they already do with young children in their classrooms every day"
California Early Childhood Mentor Program

 


school

"Time and again stories reveal to us the common threads of our imaginations,
the common ground of each of our cultures"

 
 
While Diane loves to tell stories to adults and families, school performances are what she loves the most. It is here that she feels she has the greatest impact as the stacks and stacks of letters, drawings, thank you notes, and handwritten stories from thousands of school children attest to. Her vast repertoire and ability to relate make her equally popular with all ages from pre-school through high school. Singing and signing (American Sign Language) are an integral part of these performances. While many performances can be theme oriented along the program types listed above, Diane´s main focus is to promote reading-readiness, visual imagery, imagination, and character/moral development.

Diane gets so many call backs it is sometimes difficult for her to keep track of what stories she has told at what schools. The following is typical:

`Ferlatte asked her audience of kindergartners through fourth-graders what stories she had told them last year. As student after student gave a detailed recitation of the tales, Ferlatte seemed surprised and delighted over the strong impression she had left. Satisfied with the answers to her pop quiz, she spun a new story, this one about Anansi the spider´.
Sally Ryen, Davis Enterprise

School performances run from 45 minutes to one hour depending on the age and grade level. School appearances generally consist of one to three assemblies, depending on the school size and grade levels involved.

Storytelling a Teaching Tradition
Teaching tool--Storytelling is a way of "saying without saying" (values, morals) and enhances retention of lessons being taught.

Literary skills--improves all aspects of language arts skills and vocabulary expansion. A sense of story structure and the telling and retelling aids reading and writing skills as well as oral skills.

Emotional development--self esteem, self-confidence--stories provide role models for encountering and overcoming adversity. Learning to tell their own stories enhances self-esteem and builds confidence in public speaking.

Stretching the Imagination--When you use words alone to weave images, the child soon learns the way into the rich world of the mind. Listening skills are developed. Mental imagery links to reading achievement.

Intimacy--There is a special magic in the sharing of a story with a child. This is a gift you give to children, a sharing of imaginations.

History--Stories frequently focus on historical personalities, events, and eras.

Social/Cultural--offering authentic experiences of other cultures, expressing diversity, introducing and promoting conflict resolution.

Music--learning to use rhythm, music, and singing as a creative, fun, and harmonious experience. Using music and rhythm to teach generous listening.

CRITICS CORNER

"She was fantastic! I was amazed by the way she held everyone´s attention! I felt as if I were "in" her stories."
3rd Grade Teacher, Le Jardin Academy, Kailua, Hawaii

"She was like watching a movie."
"I felt like the room was on fire and everyone was alive."

2nd Grade Students

"Your participation helped to link today´s children to a variety of cultures and to become aware of the unity we all share."
Education Department, Los Angeles Philharmonic

"We have asked Diane to perform for Cambodian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Hispanic, African-American, Chinese, and Hmong children. Regardless of her audience´s cultural heritage, Diane touches the lives of these people with power and poignancy."
William McBride, Ph.D., National Language Arts Consultant McDougal Littell/Houghton Mifflin

"I was moved to tears feeling the impact Diane was making on all who have the opportunity to hear her. What power an arts experience holds! The 4th-8th graders at Mesa were riveted."
Barbara Leonard, Artistic Director, Education Department Los Angeles Music Center on Tour

 
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